Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


Shunned and feared, the Rotwand is a sizeable, accessible Eldo cliff that gets virtually no traffic, probably for good reason. It is the eastern most cliff in Eldo, directly across the river from the main parking lot. It is ostensibly named after various Rotwands (Red Wall) in Europe, but the name is really a phonetic word play and testament to the quality of the rock. To get an idea of what you'll be dealing with, visualize the loathsome rotten bands of Rincon and the West Ridge and then imagine a 200' high cliff comprised of nothing but. Considering how nerve-wracking and downright dangerous the climbing there tends to be, the cliff sports an astonishing number of routes. Rossister considers virtually all of these routes VS.

Rotwand advisories: In my (limited -- two Rot routes) experience, 50% of holds are suspect -- handholds regularly break off. There can be lots of gear, but more than half the good placements are in shattered rock and you really don't want to test them. Route finding is tricky, kind of like Hallet Peak but with terrible rock and of course, there will be no no chalk to mark the way. As you might expect, there is plently of loose rock; in 2003, we threw and knocked several non-negligible chunks off of "the most popular route on the Rockwand" which had been established by Kor in the 60's. Bottom line prereq: have your shit together.

Reasons to climb at the Rotwand: 1. No waiting in line; in 20 years of Eldo climbing, I don't recall seeing anyone else on it. 2. Climbing there is a very intense, focusing experience.

(Calling Steve Levin.) Open invitation to any old hands to weigh in with any Rotwand lore?

Ever wonder what was the purpose of that little gazebo above the lower Rotward? Examine page 78 of Godfrey's & Chelton's Climb! where Ivy Baldwin's low wire was attached. That may represent the highest usage day for the Rotwand ever!

Getting There

Approach: Hang a right at the bridge, passing the south face of Wind Ridge and continuing to a slabby gully that abuts the west face of the Rotwand. Scramble up the gully until the start of your route. There is a section of easy 5th class near the lower end of the gully.

Descent: Scramble down the east side.

6 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Rotwand

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b X
Rotwand Route
Trad 3 pitches
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c X
Kinnder Rooten
Trad 2 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Rotwand Route
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b X Trad 3 pitches
Kinnder Rooten
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c X Trad 2 pitches
More Classic Climbs in The Rotwand »

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Good place to wear a brain bucket, even if you normally don't. May 7, 2003
Mic Fairchild
Mic Fairchild   Boulder
Over the years, I've enjoyed an afffinity for this crag for its unique challenges. There is a bit of nuance necessary to have success on the Rotwand. I have done two first ascents and five other established routes on the rock (over 100 summit trips total) and find it to be a unique Eldo adventure every time. Don't discount the serious nature of the fractured face, but tread lightly and you'll get there. Compared to some of the choss that passes these days, it ain't bad. Oct 20, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
If "Rot wand" is German for "Red Face,"
How do you translate "Choss Pile" into German?

I consider myself a well seasoned Choss-Jockey and have gleaned about 50 FA's out of Eldo that were previously unclimbed, or at least undocumented. And still I find this wall to be the junkiest of all of Eldo, save possibly:
The top of 'Cardinal Richeleu' (Peanuts Wall)
'Serenghetti Spaghetti' (Upper Bastille)
The lower section of 'Bloke On the Side' (West Ridge)
and 'Carpet Bombing' (Millenium Crag)

Maybe those are good prerequisites... at least there is something to retreat to if need be, less of a butt-kicking trying to get back down if you finish, and something good to climb nearby when you are done. Feb 13, 2006
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
After climbing less-than-memorable routes like Syphilis Waffle, Dalke's Folly, and some obscure line with a bunch of fixed gear that doesn't match any description in either Rossiter guide, I'd have to say there are so many other more interesting things to climb in Eldo. If you tire of lines/crowds, those are extinct species here; however, willing partners are probably endangered as well. Mar 18, 2006
Classic. I used to live in the "Swiss Chalet" above the pool parking lot. I set up a little group of stone "chairs" just over the ridge above the house, looking into the canyon, a good place to relax and take things in. One night an old friend and I were up there having a couple of beers and a smoke, and laughing about the Rotwand, the sketchy rock and the name. Then we started eyeing a potential line, first just for kicks. After we were buzzed enough, we got riled up and headed over. We ended up doing a line which upon later research roughly follows "Dumb Wadie Bird Warble" (unknowingly). It was nuts. The buzz wore off pretty quickly, as every move and every placement was suspect. As you went higher, you were just getting deeper into it. But it was also a lot of fun in a nutty kind of way. Took a long time; we did it in 2 small pitches. It started snowing during the second pitch, by the time we topped out on the ramp it was a blizzard. Made our way back down, headed back up to the chalet for more beers. I had locked us out. As I had only lived in the Canyon about a month at that time I felt like a gumby and decided not to bug my new neighbors. We ended up gathering some sticks and lit a fire in the Smokey Joe (of course one thing we did have was a lighter) to stay warm until my then-girlfriend came back from work at 11:30. A great memory, glad I didn't fall leading! Like one of the other posters said, climbing in Eldo for 11 years and living there for 3 I never saw anyone on the Rotwand. But it's a quintissential experience. May 7, 2008
I will agree with all responses to the Rotwand. I have been slowly ticking off the Rotwand routes and have chosen to do them as solos,, because who knows if the gear will hold. I just finished Most Honorable HoseBags and Forgotten History and both routes were fun and engaging for sure. Tons of loose rock and everything is suspect. Jul 11, 2011
My general observation: the higher one climbs, the better the rock becomes. I've done only the "Regular Route" around 3 or 4 times in the '80s. Apr 15, 2016